Perils of poor oral hygiene

The Weber State University Department of Dental Hygiene is currently offering teeth cleaning for $32 and X-rays for $2 for students, no insurance required.

WSU’s dental hygiene program, which started in 1975, has both regional and national presence in the dental profession. The program provides dental services on WSU’s campus, as well as weekly dental services to the veterans at the VA hospital in Salt Lake City. The students provide the services under direct supervision of faculty who are licensed dental hygienists and dentists.

According to recent medical studies, dental problems, left untreated, can lead to more serious health issues.

“A cavity is a bacterial infection that can go through the tooth and into the nerve and blood supply of your body,” said Stephanie Bossenberger, department chair of dental hygiene and WSU professor. “You can have an infection that travels through your whole body that started with a toothache.”

Studies in the medical and dental professions are linking various health problems, like heart disease and premature births, to the mouth as a result of infected blood traveling from a person’s teeth through the body.

“Traditionally, people act like the mouth isn’t attached to the body. You take your mouth to the dentist, and you take the rest of you to the doctor,” Bossenberger said. “The mouth is part of the body.”

Bossenberger said more physicians are looking in patients’ mouth and recommending they go to their oral care providers to prevent any oral issues from becoming more serious. She said one way for people to avoid dental problems is to visit an oral care provider regularly.

“It varies by the individual,” Bossenberger said. “If you are a young person, and you don’t have problems with your teeth, like cavities, and if you don’t have problems with your gums, like gingivitis, then every six months would be appropriate.”

Some students said they agreed that six months is a good interval for regular dental checkups.

“I go to the dentist every six months, and I have never had a cavity,” said Maddi Tice, a sophomore at WSU studying criminal justice. “I think going to the dentist regularly really helps.”

Bossenberger said another way to avoid problems is to use the right toothbrush, non-abrasive toothpaste and proper brushing techniques.

“I buy toothbrushes with soft bristles that are smaller so they go underneath my gum lines,” said Ben Duke, a senior at WSU majoring in accounting.

Bossenberger said that, along with the right toothbrush, proper brushing technique is needed.

“Many times, people are in a big hurry, and they brush fast and go at it really strong where they are pushing hard on their teeth,” Bossenberger said. “That can cause gum recession and can actually cause damage to the teeth.”

She said the proper technique is to brush in small, circular strokes at the gum line and to brush every surface of every tooth.

Bossenberger also said that, when choosing toothpaste, one should turn the package over and read the ingredients.

“Ingredients are always listed from the highest percentage of the ingredient down to the least,” Bossenberger said. “If silica or a pumice is listed in the first three ingredients, that means the toothpaste is going to be more abrasive than others.”

More information on dental care can be found at WSU’s dental hygiene clinic, which offers a variety of dental services at reduced prices. Students can find more information at